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Dean Welcome: Spring 2021 Semester

January 26, 2021 College of Arts and Humanities

headshot of Bonnie Thornton Dill

A message from Dean Bonnie Thornton Dill.

The new dawn blooms as we free it

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it

If only we’re brave enough to be it

Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb” 

Dear ARHU Community,

Welcome back to the second half of the 20-21 academic year! 

The words from the poem above, written and performed by National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman at last week’s historic inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris, provide both challenge and inspiration as we begin the spring semester.  

The challenges of last semester remain with us. On campus, we continue with mostly online and a few hybrid classes; we work, teach and learn from home, some with unpredictable internet or juggling family responsibilities including children in their own online or hybrid classes. We spend endless hours on Zoom and valiantly cope with the unpredictable. On a national level, we continue to struggle with a raging pandemic, increased economic insecurity, the ongoing scourge of racial oppression and the recognition that ours is a divided nation. Many of us were shaken by the January 6 brazen assault on the nation’s capital. It goes without saying; this is a stressful period in our lives, our nation and the world. A time that can too easily feel dark and gloomy.

Yet, there is light in this darkness: a vaccine that is highly effective and safe; the resurgence of passionate national activism to defeat structural racism in its many forms; new campus initiatives to heal our community and advance our University; and YOU.

As students, staff and faculty in the College of Arts and Humanities, the work that YOU do and the subjects that YOU study and teach are a beacon guiding each of us toward understanding and addressing our challenges. The arts and humanities remind us that current events are part of the long arc of human history, which in the U.S. includes major, divisive struggles in every century.

At the outset of another semester shaped by the unpredictability of COVID-19, I encourage you to remember Gorman’s words “there is always light.” When you feel discouraged or the darkness seems endless, remember the light; the light of learning and inspiration; the light of your purpose in being here; the light your presence, persistence and resilience inspires in others; the light in the eyes of your friends, students and children when you share a story, a song, a dance, or a fearless idea through Zoom, FaceTime, IG, Twitter or in person! 

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we’ve just celebrated, remember that you are part of a community in which learning, knowledge and truth are light in the darkness. Be brave in their pursuit and support one another in their dissemination.  

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

Throughout the semester, I look forward to hearing from you and learning of both your successes and challenges. 


Bonnie Thornton Dill

Dean & Professor